Sunday, 29 June 2014

Aristolochia clematitis

"Aristolochia clematitis, European Dutchman's Pipe", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Aristolochia clematitis, also known as European Dutchman’s Pipe, Birthwort or pipevine, is a twining herbaceous plant in the Aristolochiaceae family, which is native to Europe. The leaves are heart shaped and the flowers are pale yellow and tubular in form. The plant seeks light by ascending the stems of surrounding plants.

This flowering plant, known commonly in Europe as Birthwort, is one of the very old healing plants already in use at the time of the ancient Egyptians and later by the Greeks, including Hippocrates and Pliny. It was an ingredient in a remedy which was used as a panacea against ulcers, fevers, and snake bites. The ancient Egyptian name for the plant translates as “anti-snake”. 


The Latin name Aristolochia is compounded from ├íristos “the best” and l├│chos “birth”. It refers to the use of the plant in aiding childbirth. Hildegard von Bingen taught that Aristolochia opens the closed female inner organs and dissolves hardened menstrual blood. Lonicerus wrote in his 1564 herb book: “Birthwort powdered and mixed with so much myrrh and used with warm wine purifies the uterus and drives out the dead birth. Every woman in childbed should drink this herb and root.”   The species name clematitis derives from the Greek “klema” meaning “tendril”. 

This plant is one of the best examples of the problems arising from the belief that the look of a plant determines its use medicinally. The small yellow flower has a bulb at one end with a tube and a trumpet shaped opening. This was taken to be a representation of a womb and birth canal which led to the idea that the plant should be given to women in labour. It may well have been responsible for many tens of thousands of deaths since earliest times. 


While I find this to be an interesting and attractive plant with great leaves, I could not help thinking, as I worked on this drawing, of all the women and babies who have died through the centuries because someone with influence had decided that this plant had healing or restorative properties -- especially for pregnant women. Birthwort actually does have actual healing properties, but it is also a killer. 

So many stories have been told about this plant through the centuries -- I recall reading somewhere that Pliny is reported to have said that eating this plant with beef immediately after conception would definitely ensure that the woman would give birth to a male child!  Even today, in spite of the knowledge we now have about the effects of aristolochic acid on the human body, there are still people using this deadly plant in herbal and folk medicines in an effort to be cured of all sorts of ailments.



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BRADEN'S BIRTHDAY PARTY

During the past week, we celebrated Braden's birthday.  Thanks to decent weather and my pain medication, I was able to attend!  It was truly a wonderful event and I managed to stay for almost 3 hours before I became too uncomfortable and had to come home.  I was, however, able to be there for the delicious meal, largely prepared by Braden's grandparents, as well as the opening of gifts. Braden was truly overwhelmed by all the stuff that he received from adoring family and friends and I am sure it will take him some time to get around to playing with all of his new toys.

Fortunately, there were plenty of people there taking photos and Braden's mom was kind enough to send some of them to me. Following are a selection of some of my favourites...

His birthday adventures began with a trip to a farm where Braden got to pretend to drive a tractor (this boy does love tractors!) and ride a horse (again).


Braden on a big red tractor!




Braden the equestrian!


Later in the afternoon came the gathering with family and friends for a BBQ followed by the presentation of Braden's birthday cake along with all of his gifts!


Braden taking a moment's rest in his grandparents' back garden (note tractor in hands)!




Braden looking oh, so, cool (note tractor close at hand)!



Braden's birthday cake!  He is more interested in the toys on top than in the cake itself!



A group shot which includes me (Braden wanted me to dispose of the napkin he had just used to wipe cake icing off his hands)!  The other folks in the photo are family members.



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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki being watchful and alert -- probably hoping
I was headed towards the kitchen!
There's not a great deal to report this week about either Suki or myself.

Suki hasn't done anything too terrible during the past 7 days. In fact, rather than Suki doing something outrageous, I am the one who managed to foil Suki in her efforts to awaken me in the early a.m.  Let me tell you what happened...

One recent morning, when I was awakened by Suki's rattling of the blinds on the balcony door at 4:45 a.m., I suddenly had a revelation about an easy way to get Suki to leave me alone so that I could go back to sleep.  I would simply open the balcony door just a bit!

You may well wonder why such an action would cause Suki to cease and desist in her efforts to get food.  I mean, cats usually like open doors -- especially ones that lead to the outside.  Well, it just so happens that Suki is afraid of the noises that she hears coming from that open balcony door -- the noises of a big city coming to life in the early morning.  Suki, remember, is a true indoor cat -- she has never lived outside -- and those street noises are foreign and rather terrifying to her.  She is used to living in a very quiet home where the windows and doors are always closed in order to keep our home quiet.

Well, I can report with delight that the plan worked.  I opened the door just a bit and Suki, after a moment or two of hesitation, retreated to the back of the bedroom closet where she stayed until I finally awakened again at 7 a.m. At that point, I closed the balcony door and almost immediately Suki presented herself to be fed! 

Since then, I have used this trick several more times and so far it has worked well each time.  All I can hope is that Suki never gets used to the noises and starts to ignore them.  If this happens, then I am right back to trying less effective methods to get her to leave me alone while I get my normal six hours of sleep uninterrupted by kitty cat "feed me now" tactics!

As for me, I did have one medical appointment this past week, but it was just a regular followup appointment.  You already know about my outing to help Braden celebrate his birthday. 

Unfortunately, I am still in the process of recovering from that experience.  However, it was well worth any extra tiredness as I got to be with Braden on his special day.  As well, I got to visit with his family and friends -- some of whom I had not seen since Braden's parents' wedding some years ago.  The party was a wonderful experience and well worth any extra pain and discomfort I may still be suffering.


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SOLEMNITY OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL


"Icon Saints Peter and Paul", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009

"I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16: 18-19

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.

Peace.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Annunciation Revisited

"Annunciation to Our Lady", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Even though we are several months past the date for celebrating the Annunciation (in fact today is the Feast of Corpus Christi), I felt that today was the time for posting this particular drawing. 

My drawing, entitled "Annunciation to Our Lady", was inspired, once again, by another John William Waterhouse painting.  The Waterhouse painting, entitled simply "The Annunciation", is a large canvas with the two figures (Our Lady and the Archangel Gabriel) placed in a horizontal frame.  I, however, decided to do two separate drawings showing a single figure in each vertical frame. Thus, today's drawing is of Our Lady at the moment the Archangel appeared to her.  Very soon, I plan to begin working on a drawing of the Archangel Gabriel as shown in this same Waterhouse painting and will probably be posting it a couple of Sundays from now.  

In my drawing, I decided to show Our Lady working at a implement used for making thread from carded wool -- something like a very simple spinning wheel.  I am not sure how accurate my depiction is as I worked from some drawings of various primitive instruments used for this purpose; however, I tried to imagine what type of implement Our Lady could have had for spinning the woollen thread that her family would use in the making of their clothes.

As I worked on this drawing, I was definitely trying to capture a look of surprise and amazement on the face of Our Lady, but I remain unsatisfied by my attempts to accomplish my goal.  As I have stated previously, I am a pretty good "copyist", but not a trained artist.  I mention this so that you won't be surprised if I end up revising this drawing in the future -- as I have done with many other drawings in the past!   



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"WATERCOLOURS" OF A SORT!

Following are what appear to be three watercolours of pastoral scenes.  They are, in fact, photographs to which have been applied the "Pencil Sketch pad" app I discovered a few weeks ago.

I am aware that the ability to create similar effects with photos has been around for some time; however, maybe it's just my failing eyesight, but I really like the results given by this software. Particularly, I like the gentle quality of the light as well as the soft shadows created by that light.

My favourite of these three is (as you probably guessed) the third picture -- the one of the trees.  Not only does it have the natural characteristics of a watercolour, but the software manages to retain the lovely hues and tones of the colour green.    

I would be interested in knowing which one of these three you would most like to have hanging on your own wall in your own home or office.


"Watercolour" of a pastoral scene created from photo after applying Sketch Pad software



"Watercolour" of a pastoral scene created from photo after applying Sketch Pad software



"Watercolour" of a pastoral scene created from photo after applying Sketch Pad software



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SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki as a kitten watching  one of her
favourite TV channels with me
Suki really isn't much of a TV viewer.  Normally, all the murder mysteries I enjoy watching just put her to sleep.  She even seems to find fast car chases to be rather boring!

She does, however, enjoy watching the Aquarium Channel! Even though she doesn't care for fish as food, she does seem to enjoy watching them swim.  It can be really funny to see Suki jumping up on the table and trying to get inside the TV screen where those dastardly fish are swimming around and around!

The only other time Suki gets very excited by the TV is whenever there is a real cat meowing in any show.  Whether it is a kitten mewing or a Siamese yowling, Suki's ears perk right up whenever such sounds occur -- even when she appears to be deeply asleep. Sometimes she even gets up and searches the apartment, trying to find the cat she has just heard on the television!  

Poor kitty... I really feel sorry for her at times like these and think that maybe I should have gotten a second cat a long time ago to keep Suki company.  Of course, the moment I think about how much extra work that would mean for me, I dismiss such foolish thoughts.  Anyway, upon serious reflection, I am pretty certain that Suki would not really be pleased at all with any other creature who expected her to share her food, toys and, most of all, me!

As for me, I continue to do much the same.  

Once again I had a week free of medical appointments.  I find this to be a great blessing as these trips always end up leaving me in much more pain than I would have been in otherwise.  As well, these doctor visits rarely seem to produce anything other than more bad news anyway!

This coming week does include a medical appointment as well as a very important engagement occurring on Saturday the 28th.  I am sure I will have both photos and lots of comments to share when I prepare my posting for next Sunday.  So make certain you don't miss my column for the first Sunday in July!


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CORPUS CHRISTI SUNDAY

The Gospel reading for this Sunday contains some of the most astounding words in the New Testament.  One cannot read these words without agreeing with C. S. Lewis when he said:
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”  C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity


"Corpus Christi", icon by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Following is a portion of today's Gospel reading:
Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me."   John 6:52ff

After reading these and similar passages from the Gospels, one must either dismiss Christ as a madman or, as Lewis said, fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.

I wish all of you a blessed Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  

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May God bless us and Our Lady intercede for us in the week ahead and may that peace which God alone can give fill our hearts and minds today and always.  Amen.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Camellia and Morning Glory "Black"

"Camellia x 'Night Rider' ", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

The first featured drawing this week is of a Camellia hybrid by the name of Camellia x 'Night Rider'.  It is also sometimes listed as Camellia japonica 'Night Rider'.

The flowers and young foliage of this slow-growing camellia are deep reddish-purple with the underside of the flower petals tending towards black. 

The Night Rider Camellia originated in New Zealand from a cross between Camellia 'Ruby Bells' and C. japonica 'Kuro-tsubaki'. The cross was made by the late Oswald Blumhardt (1931-2004) in New Zealand and the plant flowered for the first time in 1980. 

Blumhardt was a plantsman, nurseryman, hybridizer, and plant explorer of the first order. Working with a variety of taxa including Magnolias, Rhododendrons, Camellias, and Orchids, he produced a quantity of hybrids, many of which are important commercial plants. 'Night Rider' is his best known Camellia. 

Family: Theaceae; Botanical Name: Camellia 'Night Rider'; Plant Common Names: hybrid camellia and Night Rider camellia. 

As I have mentioned in previous postings, Camellias are broad-leaved evergreens from warm temperate regions of eastern Asia. They are known for their abundant showy flowers, their handsome leathery foliage and their longevity.

Much of the above information was taken from various Internet sources.

I was attracted to this plant because of the unusual colour of its blossoms.  It is one of several dark red or dark purple flowering plants I have been working on recently.  For some reason, at the moment, I seem to be very attracted to flowers of dark colouring -- some so dark that they appear to be black.

Here is second featured flowering plant for today -- another almost-black flower:

"Ipomoea purpurea, Morning Glory 'Kniola's Black' ", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Ipomoea purpurea, Morning Glory 'Kniola's Black' has deep velvety, near-black purple blooms which are accented with a vivid cerise throat topped with stars.  As beautiful as these blossoms are, this particular morning glory can be very aggressive.  Unless managed carefully, 'Kinola's Black' can become a nuisance plant.

This plant is, of course, one of the very familiar Purple, Tall or Common Morning Glory species in the genus Ipomoea, family Convolvulaceae.  It is native to Mexico and Central America. Like all morning glory varieties the plant entwines itself around structures, growing to a height of 2–3 metres. The leaves are heart-shaped and the flowers are trumpet-shaped, 3–6 cm in diameter.

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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki looking very displeased -- I disturbed her nap
in order to take a photo!
(Pencil Sketch Software has been applied)
Suki and I have had a very difficult week simply because I became determined to put her on the diet that the vet said I should!  

When I had Suki at the vet a few months ago, he told me that if I could get her to lose a bit of weight, she would have less pain and discomfort in her arthritic joints.  So, I have tried over the ensuing weeks to put her on a diet and keep her on it, but, usually, I gave up after about 12 hours.  It seemed too difficult to have my life constantly interrupted by a begging cat. And, you know, she doesn't just sit at my feet and look at me with a mournful expression like a dog might -- oh, no -- she jumps up on me, meows loudly, tries to lick my face, plops herself down on top of whatever it is I am trying to do and so on...

Last weekend, however, I noticed that she was limping a bit more once again and so I made the decision that I was going to put Suki on a diet and keep her on it!  Let me tell you, because of that decision, this has truly been the week from Hell!

My plan was to only feed her the turkey and gravy she craves so badly 4 times a day.  That equals two of the small Fancy Feast cans which seems, to me anyway, to be more than sufficient.  Suki definitely does not agree with this regimen.  I also decided that I would feed her at the times when I have my own meals.  Normally, I have breakfast, lunch, supper and an evening snack.  

Believe it or not, I have actually managed to keep Suki on this diet for the entire week, but in order to do so, I have truly had to endure some really unpleasant experiences.  As well, I have even had to shut Suki in the bedroom on occasion in order to keep her from pestering me to death!

As I have mentioned previously in the blog, Suki gets very vocal whenever there is a shut door in the apartment.  Her rule seems to be that there can be no doors completely closed anywhere other than the front door and the closet door where the dreaded vacuum cleaner lives.  Otherwise, every door, even closet doors, must be open just a crack -- just enough for a curious kitty to push her way in should she want to!  

To be honest, I have even used my big headphones on occasion to block out the Siamese cat-type sounds coming from behind the shut bedroom door.  After a while, of course, I give up and let her out to pester me some more. Sometimes I do this because I feel sorry for Suki, sometimes because I feel guilty and sometimes because I fear my neighbours may end up calling the police or the Humane Society because of the noisy, pitiful cries coming from my apartment!

At any rate, I hope to stick to the diet for Suki throughout this coming week and, hopefully, when I weigh her next Sunday, she will have lost at least a pound or two.  Actually, the vet said she only needed to lose a couple of pounds so maybe by next Sunday the worst will be over. Of course, I will have to keep her on "short rations" from now on so that all this suffering will not  have been in vain.

As for me, I am doing pretty much the same.  There have been no medical appointments this past week for which I am grateful.  I did hear back about my potassium level and, at the moment, it is sitting at the very top of the normal range.  I am hoping it will stay there from now on.

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TRINITY SUNDAY

Since the earliest days of Christian artistic expressions of Biblical passages, the three angels visiting Abraham and Sarah in the Genesis story have been seen as representing the three persons of the Holy Trinity.  The most famous iconic representation is by Rublev (see below):

Rublev Troitsa
Today's feast of the Most Holy Trinity is a concept uniquely Christian -- that God is three persons in One -- one God in Three Persons.  That God is not alone in His immense universe, but is, in fact, a community of three persons in one God.  Within the One Godhead there is a constant, loving community.

I pray that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, will bless us on this special feast day by giving us all an increased awareness of His presence within us, around us and throughout the whole of creation. Amen.

Peace be with you.  Amen.
 

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Our Lady of the Winds

"Our Lady of the Winds", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Today's featured drawing was inspired by another John William Waterhouse painting entitled "Boreas".

Boreas was the name of the Greek god of the north wind.  The name is also used to speak of the north wind personified.  The name, Boreas, is Latin from the Greek.

I, of course, thought immediately of Our Lady and decided that my drawing would be entitled "Our Lady of the Winds".  

The Waterhouse painting, which you really might want to take a look at by the way, is quite a bit more detailed than my drawing.  It shows more of the woman and of the wind-blown trees and grass. 

After beginning the drawing, I checked on the Internet and discovered that there actually is a church of Our Lady of the Wind, Saydet El-Rih in Arabic.  It was built in the Byzantine era in Enfeh, Lebanon. Even though the roof of the chapel has long since collapsed, it still retains traces of wall paintings representing Saint George and Saint Demetrios, the Omnipotent Christ, two evangelists, some saints and the Virgin calming the wind. It is believed that sailors and fishermen from the village of Enfeh built the chapel so that the Virgin Mary would protect them as they sailed the Mediterranean. 

Anyone who has ever spent time on or near the Mediterranean Sea knows how quickly the winds can arise and how frightening they can be.  I don't blame those fisherman one bit for asking Our Lady to intercede with her Son for calmer seas!


Orthodox icon, "Our Lady of the Wind"
Written by the nun of Our Lady of
Kaftoun Monastery

There is actually a new icon of "Our Lady of the Wind".  It comes from the Orthodox tradition. The nuns of Our Lady of Kaftoun finished this icon in December 2001 at the request of the parish of Enfeh after having shown preliminary designs to fathers and theologians who gave their blessing.  The icon now resides in the modern-day church at Enfeh, Lebanon (see left).









Of course, in the Christian tradition, the idea of "Our Lady of the Winds" is not just about calming rough seas such as the Mediterranean.  It is also about asking Our Lady to calm our own personal rough seas.  As it says in the Paraklisis (Supplicatory Canon in the Orthodox Christian Church and Eastern Catholic Churches) to the Theotokos:

“O Virgin, calm the tumult of our passions and quiet the storm of our sins…” Amen.


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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki in another one of her favourite chairs!
For some reason, Suki loves to spend part of her day sleeping in a chair by the front door (see drawing to your left).

I have never understood why she likes to sleep there since the chair, being by the front door, means that she hears all the noises from the hallway. Not only would I expect these noises to disturb her sleep, but I also know how frightened she is of that hallway.  She never goes out there and when the door is opened, she backs away and hides under the table near the apartment entrance until the door is closed again!

Be that as it may, she still likes to spend hours sleeping there each day.  Of course, if she is in this chair when someone knocks on the front door, she reacts immediately.  Bounding from the chair, she does not stop until she is almost in the living room.  At this point, with her fur all bushy, she carefully peers around the corner as I go to answer the door.  As soon as she hears me call out, loudly, "who is it?", her fur becomes a bit less bushy and she creeps forward just a bit closer to me -- still ready to run at a moment's notice.

On days when I am expecting both a package from the post office as well as a delivery from the pharmacy, she has to go through this entire routine each time someone knocks.  I have asked myself many times, "why does she still like to sleep in that chair?" and I have never yet come up with an answer!

Of course, as I am writing this, Suki is sound asleep nearby. Whenever I am in my little office space, she has to be here as well. What a sweet and funny cat she is.

As for me, I continue to stumble along with no significant changes in my health.

I did see a doctor this past week, but he was only the locum for my regular family doctor who is presently on maternity leave.  The main reason for my visit was to get a renewal on a prescription drug that my doctor likes to monitor closely.  As well, I needed to have more blood work done in order to check on my potassium levels.

So far, I haven't had a phone call from the doctor about what the blood tests revealed, but, then, the visit to the lab was on Thursday afternoon and the doctor was not in the office on Friday.  So, I will wait and see if I get a phone call tomorrow suggesting I increase the medication that is supposed to be helping me bring my potassium levels back down to normal.

What fun this is!

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PENTECOST SUNDAY

Happy feast day to you all!


"Pentecost, the Descent of the Holy Spirit", icon by the hand of 
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009

"And when the days of Pentecost were drawing to a close, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a violent wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as of fire, which settled upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in foreign tongues, even as the Holy Spirit prompted them to speak" (Acts 2, 1-4).

May the holy wind of Pentecost blow away all the storm clouds in our lives, leaving behind the peaceful breezes of God's grace. Amen.

Our Lady of the Winds, pray for us.  Amen.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Impatiens flanaganae

"Impatiens flanaganae", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014


Impatiens flanaganae is an endangered species from South Africa with orchid-shaped blooms. These butterfly-shaped blossoms are delightful shades of rosy pink, with yellow markings inside. Cool weather deepens the colours, and the petals can take on a lavender tint. 

This member of the Balsaminaceae family was given its name by William Botting Hemsley in 1897. The genus name is taken from the Latin, impatiens meaning impatient -- the way the ripe seed pods explode when gently touched. The species name, flanaganae, comes from "Mrs. Flanagan", the name of the lady who first botanically described this plant. Thus, the common name for this plant is Mrs. Flanagan's impatiens.

There are just two limited native populations found in the KwaZulu-Natal and the Pondoland regions of South Africa. Its distribution is limited to these two small areas of South Africa and the species is considered threatened due to the invasion of other species as well as habitat destruction.  For example, the building of one resort is threatening an entire population!  


Impatiens flanaganae tubers

As noted previously, this is a tuberous species. The tubers are a startling rose-red colour (see photo).


I do enjoy drawing the various varieties of Impatiens -- most of them are so delicate with that lovely, curving backside. 
Were I still young, healthy and had sufficient income, I would definitely enjoy seeing these beautiful blossoms in real life!  How delightful it would have been to take a trip to the Cape area of South Africa in order to see these and many of the other lovely South African flowers I have drawn! 


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BRADEN REALLY LIKES BIG WHEELS!


As I have mentioned previously, Braden likes anything with wheels -- especially trucks, fire engines, earth moving equipment and so on.  Understandably, whenever he has an opportunity to be involved with the real thing, he is a happy boy.  My evidence can be seen below...



Already drivin' that big rig!  
(Note the special kid-size fire fighter's badge at his waist -- pretty proud).




What a cool place (in more ways than one) to get out of the sun!


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ANOTHER REQUEST

I received a request this past week from a person preparing the poster for an upcoming performance of an English festival choir. The letter says, in part: 
Our November 2014 concert is to be called “Mass in Time of War” and will include Haydn’s “Mass in Time of War”, Ireland’s “Greater love hath no man” and Walford Davies’s “Short Requiem in memory of those fallen in the War”. All this is, of course, to commemorate the start of the First World War, remembering and paying tribute to all those who lived through that time. 

The request asks for permission to use one of my drawings from last year as the illustration on the poster.  The requested drawing was posted on July 28, 2013 and is entitled "Mother and Son in a Field of Poppies".  Unfortunately (or fortunately), I no longer have the July, 2013 drawing! I posted it knowing that it was one of those drawings with which I was still unsatisfied.  As a consequence, I continued to work on it during the months after posting until I reached the place, earlier this year, where I felt I could let it rest.

Here is what the drawing looked like back on July 28, 2013:


"Mother and Child Resting in a Field of Poppies",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Below is the final version of the drawing:


"Mother and Child Resting in a Field of Poppies",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

So, I plan to send the organization the file of this drawing along with my permission for them to use it; however, it is possible that they might still want to use the original drawing.  I will also give them permission to do that as well, but I no longer have a proper computer file for that version.  Of course, they can always take a copy from my blog, but the printing quality will not be nearly as good.  I will let you know what happens.

If any of you want to comment on which version you prefer, please feel free to let me know.

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SUKI AND SALLIE


Add caption
Poor Suki came close to losing her life this past week! Her close encounter with the afterlife was due to her behaviour while trying to convince me to feed her. You may think I am joking, but I am quite serious.  Let me tell you what happened...

Early Friday morning, around 4:45 a.m. I think, Suki decided that she desperately needed food or else she would die of starvation!  So, she began her campaign to awaken me and get me out of bed and into the kitchen.  In order to accomplish this, she used the venetian blind technique (I have told you about this previously) and had me awake by 5 a.m.  Once she knew I was awake (you cannot fool a cat about such matters even though I tried), Suki went to stage two:  get Sallie out of bed!

I, however, was not interested in moving any further than the side of the bed.  I actually feel asleep again for a couple of minutes while just sitting there.  Suki quickly remedied this by using the rattling of the plastic bag technique.  Finally, I gave in and, with much painful effort, got myself into a standing position.

Normally, at this point, Suki heads for the kitchen to await my arrival.  This particular morning, however, Suki decided, unbeknownst to me, to stay by my feet.  Perhaps she thought that I might not know the way to the kitchen and needed her guidance in the matter -- I do not know her reasoning. What I do know is that this decision on her part almost cost her at least one of her nine lives and could have possibly cost me my life as well.

As you know, I do not walk very well at the best of times and this is especially true when I first get out of bed in the morning.  I have to hold on to every piece of furniture, doorway or wall that I pass as I move from one point to another.  As well, due to poor circulation, my feet have almost no feeling in them at that time of day so I really cannot tell very much about what I am stepping on.  Walking first thing in the morning is really, for me, a matter of moving out in faith!

So, I began to move not realizing that Suki was still right by my feet.  Just at the point where I was ready to let go of one piece of furniture while reaching out for another, I suddenly sensed something by my leg. I realized in an instant that it must be Suki, and I frantically tried to grab onto something in order to stop myself from taking that next step.  

For a moment, I was sure that I was going to fall and I knew that if I fell, I would probably land on the cat -- the cat who did not seem to have any idea that her life was in imminent danger!  Reaching out in desperation, I was able, just at the last minute, to grab onto a large piece of furniture and stop myself from either falling or from putting my foot down on Suki who was still standing there -- right where my foot had almost come down on top of her.

I was really quite shaken by the experience.  I had, obviously, been able, in that moment, to foresee the consequences of putting my foot down on top of Suki and of the fall that would inevitably follow.  Suki, meanwhile, continued to stand right where she had been, meowing and purring as though nothing had happened.  In her mind, of course, nothing had happened... she did not realize the danger she had been in or the possible consequences.

I remember speaking quite sharply to Suki at this point; however, she did not seem to pay me any mind.  Rather, she began to slowly move towards the kitchen and I, after a moment to steady myself, began to follow her.  As I prepared her food, I told her what a lucky cat she was and I also tried to warn her about getting under my feet. She appeared to be listening, but I know that all she was really listening to was the sound of the spoon filling up her dish with turkey and gravy!  From now on, I will definitely have to be very aware of where Suki is whenever I am moving about our home.

As for me, things remain very much the same as they have been.  I did not have any medical appointments this past week which meant that there were no painful trips to the doctors, labs or hospitals.   This week I do have one doctor's appointment and will have to have blood work done as well.  Thankfully, both will be done on the same day so there should be only one day of really bad pain -- something to be grateful for.

How strange it seems to me sometimes now to realize that I actually welcome days when I do not have anything that has to be done.  So much of my life was spent trying to fill up my days and nights with activities that brought me some semblance of happiness or pleasure -- or, at the very least, kept me from getting bored.  Now, here I am being grateful when all I have to do is as little as possible so that I will experience as little pain as possible!  

We really cannot even imagine where life will take us -- we can only try to be prepared to deal with wherever it takes us when we arrive!

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May the blessings of this feast day, the Ascension of Our Lord, fill our hearts today and always.  
"The Ascension of the Lord",
icon by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer,
2009

May we never forget the final words Our Lord spoke as He disappeared from the sight of those who followed Him: "Behold, I am with you always -- even until the end of time."  
(Mt. 28:20)

 Amen.